The SEA Games 2019 is Being Called the ‘Fyre Festival of Asia’
The Philippines’ hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games has been heavily criticized online in the days leading up to the sporting event’s official opening on November 30.
Attendees and volunteers at the different venues have been venting and sharing images online of the alleged mismanagement by the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), an agency created by the Philippine government to handle the event.
Some social media users have even called the event the “Fyre Festival of Asia,” in reference to the failed “luxury music festival” in the U.S. in 2017. The Fyre Festival became such a mess that both streaming giants Netflix and Hulu made separate documentaries about what many have called the ultimate “millennial scam.”
When the SEA Games issued started surfacing, I commented that this was going to be the sports version of Fyre Festival and that’s exactly what happened. Not happy that this came true. I didn’t want to be right, esp since the money that went to God knows where is public funds.
Many who cited similarities between the 30th SEA Games and Fyre Festival took note of the complaints made by the participants from other countries. Athletes from Myanmar, Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Thailand, and Singapore posted the problems they experienced with their transportation and accommodation. Bewildered volunteers have taken images of unfinished venues days away from the start of the games.
According to some football players from Timor-Leste, they waited in the airport for three hours before they were finally transported to the wrong hotel, reports Inquirer.
“Yesterday, we got some problems at the airport and the hotel, I hope for the future it cannot happen again,” said Timor-Leste head coach Fabiano Flora during a press conference. “All nations deserve respect. What happened yesterday was not a beautiful image.”
Myanmar athletes similarly alleged that they waited for a long time before they were picked up from the airport. They complained that their transportation method was worse than “trucks” used in remote villages. Even Filipino athletes allegedly suffered logistical issues.
Images of athletes purportedly from Cambodia shows them sleeping on hotel floors apparently due to their accommodation not being ready when they arrived.
Meanwhile, Thailand players complained about not being provided enough drinking water, noting that they were offered the same type of food “over and over again.” Even the coach of the Philippine women’s football team complained of the poor quality of their food and accommodations.
“I’m not sure how PHISGOC arranged this, but the quality and quantity of food is not enough,” Dimzon was quoted as saying. “Also in variety, like for this morning, rice, kikiam (ngo hiang) and egg. No nutrients.”
PHISGOC has since apologized for the logistical mishaps and noted that out of the 56 venues, 50 are already ready for accommodation, reports Rappler.
While the committee has vowed “to do better,” it insisted that issues are normal in huge events such as the SEA Games.
Hoping for a possible bid to host the 2030 Asian Games, the Philippine government decided in 2017 to go through with the hosting of the 30th SEA Games. The Philippines gained the hosting rights in 2015 after Brunei withdrew due to “financial and logistical reasons.”
Two years later the Philippine government withdrew its support, saying it planned to use the funds intended for the games for the rehabilitation of Marawi City after being occupied by ISIS supporters. Thailand and Indonesia offered to host the games but the Philippine government reversed the withdrawal in August 2017.
The regional meet, which officially begins on November 30 will wrap up on December 11.